Week in review: Minnesota's top stories and looking ahead

A man stands near a screen
Gov. Tim Walz listens as Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm speaks during a news conference on Friday, April 17, 2020 in St. Paul. Walz provided an update on the state's response to COVID-19 and confirmed cases have surfaced at JBS Pork processing plant in Worthington, Minn. (Christine T. Nguyen/MPR News, Pool)
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

Here were the week’s top five stories and a look ahead.

COVID-19 cases per capita in Minnesota counties
COVID-19 cases per capita in Minnesota counties
David H. Montgomery | MPR News

The state’s COVID-19 cases eclipsed 2,000 and continued to climb, with clusters of outbreaks popping up across the state. More than 20 workers at the JBS pork processing plant in Worthington are sick with COVID-19. That number is expected to rise. More than 40 residents at a Wayzata, Minn., assisted living facility were moved to other facilities Saturday amid an outbreak of the disease that affected residents and staff members.

As of Sunday, 134 Minnesotans have died from the disease.

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A large crowd stands with a flag with Trump's face on it.
A banner is flown in front of the Governor's Residence during a "Liberate Minnesota" protest.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Hundreds of people rallied outside the governor’s mansion in St. Paul on Friday urging Gov. Tim Walz to ‘liberate Minnesota” and reopen the state. The Minnesota protest was one of several that took place last week in states and cities urging leaders to end lockdowns. The protest came the same day President Trump urged his supporters to “LIBERATE” Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia. Trump has conceded reopening is up to states, but in his daily briefings he continues to push for re-starting the economy sooner rather than later.

White Bear Lake
Boats waited White Bear Lake, MN on Saturday, August 22, 2015
Caroline Yang for MPR

Gov. Walz signed a bill that allows bars and restaurants to temporarily sell wine and beer with takeout food orders. The governor also relaxed restrictions that allowed golfing and boating - at a safe distance. Walking, hiking, running, biking and driving for pleasure have been allowed under the stay-home rules provided people stayed at least 6 feet apart. Outdoor shooting ranges are also allowed to open.

A man pointing to a graph on a screen.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz provides an update on COVID-19.
Glen Stubbe | Star Tribune via AP

Officials point to computer models to inform their COVID-19 response. But what do they mean? Minnesota’s COVID-19 model doesn’t make a single prediction about the impact of the disease. It makes thousands of predictions: One for each combination of variables — from how long individuals are infectious to how long a typical hospital stay lasts — replicated over a host of different scenarios based on how long the state maintains its stay-at-home policy and social distancing practices.

A blank check from United States Treasury
Blank treasury check.
Matt Rourke | AP

Federal government stimulus checks were beginning to arrive in thousands of Minnesota taxpayers’ bank accounts this week. Most people received $1,200 each, plus $500 more per eligible child. The benefit tapers to nothing starting with people with income above $75,000. Minnesotans say they are saving the money, using it to pay off bills or giving back. You can check the status of your payment at an IRS portal.

Coming up this week

  • Expect daily coronavirus briefings by Walz and state Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm, who continue to provide updates on the spread of the disease, number of deaths, hospitalizations and demographics. MPR News carries the briefins live online and provides updates daily.

  • Expect White House briefings by President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and other members of the cornonavirus task force. MPR News carries those briefings live online.

  • The Minnesota Legislature is in session, and the Senate’s COVID-19 working group has a meeting set for Monday.

Spend a little time

  • Looking for something completely different? We are remembering veterans from World War II in our Portrait of Valor series, which kicked off last week.

  • Dare you not to smile while you read our daily dose of sweetness. From acts of kindness and sweet gestures to inspirational signs, these are some of the ways Minnesotans are lifting one another during the coronavirus pandemic.

  • What does the coming year look like? This fascinating read by the New York Times predicts no quick-fix and no quick return to the America we knew before the new coronavirus descended. Donald G. McNeil Jr., that newspaper’s global health reporter, interviewed more than 20 experts on what we can expect in the coming months -- and years.

The week in review is published each Sunday on MPR News during the coronavirus pandemic.